Cinco de Mayo is a day full of celebration and understanding of a culture often diminished in American society. The stereotypes of tequila, tacos, and sombreros often overshadow the true story of why Hispanic culture celebrates that particular day.
On May 5th, 1862, a group of two-thousand ragtag Mexican forces, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, successfully repelled six thousand well-armed French troops from the city of Puebla, Mexico. When daybreak arose and the battle was over, the French’ losses would amount to five hundred while the Mexicans would only lose a hundred. The battle did little from a strategic standpoint for the overall war but was a morale booster for the Mexican government. Anti-French resistance would grow after the battle of Puebla, ultimately leading to military support from the United States and political pressure on the French. In 1867, the French would withdraw and concede for good.
Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the tenacity that many indigenous Mexicans showed on that day in 1862, and how even in the face of great adversity, anything is possible when you come together for a greater good. Over the years, sneaker companies have honored the day with various releases that celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. We’re celebrating some of the best Cinco de Mayo-inspired shoe releases over the years.
Nike SB Dunk High “P-Rod” 2020
The Nike SB Dunk High “P-Rod” wasn’t a Cinco de Mayo release but was inspired by professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez’s Mexican roots. P-Rod stated if he wasn’t a skater, he’d be a boxer, and his SB Dunk High reflects that. The silhouette is covered in white leather, with red and green detailing surrounding it. The Swooshes offset – one matching the white leather, while the other a vibrant green, a clear homage to the Mexican flag and to P-Rod’s heritage. This matches the under sole tones of the shoe, a similar red, white, and green colorway. P-Rod’s name is printed across the tongue in a bold gold from boxing gloves, along with championship belt lace locks. Not only does it celebrate P-Rod and his heritage, but the shoe in itself is an homage to the many great Mexican boxers to come out of the country to be global superstars.
Nike SB Dunk Low “What The P-Rod” 2021
P-Rod wouldn’t stop with the SB Dunk High when trying to incorporate his Mexican heritage into his shoe line. The Nike SB Dunk Low “What the P-Rod” would be inspired by some of the elements the Dunk High had. P-Rod has ten signature shoes with Nike, a feature worthy of its own celebration. The What The P-Rod celebrates each of those releases, with colorways from each shoe making their way onto two different silhouettes. One of the shoes has the midsoles from the Dunk high, with the vibrant red, white, and green contrasting against the sporadic color splash the rest of the shoe has.
Saucony Jazz Low Pro “Cinco de Mayo” 2010
In 2010, Saucony decided they, too, wanted to pay homage to a wonderful day in Mexican history with the release of the Jazz Low Pro Cinco de Mayo editions. The shoe dawns the iconic red, white, and green colorway, with the white being leather mixed with mesh. A red swath sits prominently on the side of the shoe, stretching from the lace plate to the midsole. The heel of the shoe dawns a cool green that compliments the black under-soles nicely. Saucony finished the shoe off with gold stitching that pops similarly to the eagle on the Mexican national flag.
Puma Source Mid “Cinco de Mayo” 2019
Puma got in on the fun and created their own shoe in honor of Cinco de Mayo when they released the Source Mid Cinco de Mayo editions. The Source Mid separates itself from the previous shoes mentioned because of the lack of red and green. Instead, Puma took a creative route, adding a textile mesh to the tongue and collar done of the shoe. At first glance, one might think: how does this celebrate Cinco de Mayo? The textile material is largely reminiscent of Serape’s – “woven blanket”, often brightly colored and fringed, worn in Mexico mostly by men. It’s a small detail, but effective, especially when a shoe is celebrating a deeply rooted culture. The rest of the shoe is white leather with brown under-soles, with gold embroidery of the Puma logo on the heel and tongue.
1800 Tequila x Sam Rodriguez x PUMA Clyde “Cinco de Mayo” 2017
In a more audacious collaboration, Puma teamed with Sam Rodriguez and 1800 Tequila on the Clyde Cinco de Mayo editions. Rodriguez’s work is clear with a royal blue forestrip contrasting lighter blues around the shoe and the soles. Along with the midsoles is bold black Aztecan/Mayan imagery mixed with contemporary graffiti. The overall shoe pays homage to 1800 Tequila, as the tones of the shoe are similar to that of a bottle of 1800.
Reebok The Rail “Cinco De Mayo” 2014
Reebok comes in with The Rail “Cinco de Mayo” editions, the first women’s shoe to pay homage to the holiday. Reebok took a similar approach with these that Puma did with both of their releases: forgoing the patented red, white, and green to celebrate a different aspect of Mexican culture. The shoes are inspired by Pinata’s, staples in Mexican culture. The overall black silhouette has bright orange laces with a vibrant rose-colored mesh under the midsoles. A neon green Reebok sash comes across the midsoles horizontally, bringing the entire shoe together.
Reebok Ventilator Supreme “Cinco de Mayo” 2017
In contrast to the Rail’s extravagant pinata look, Reebok’s Ventilator Supreme Cinco de Mayo edition brought things back to simplicity. The shoe is made of white leather, with the classic red, white, and green on the shoe’s vector. The laser-etched details on the heel and tongue are done with bright gold, once again reminiscent of the eagle sitting prominently at the center of the Mexican flag.
Listen Recovery x adidas EncoreAdi “Cinco de Mayo” 2010
One of adidas’ shirt homage in observance of Cinco de Mayo was with creative Listen Recovery when they collaborated on the Encoreadi. The Emcoreadi gets an overall black leather with contrasting red, white, and green Adidas stripes on the midsole. The shoe also has a white speckled sole with a snakeskin-inspired back heel for an extra overall pop.
adidas Forum Low “Cinco de Mayo” 2008
Keeping up with their audacious releases, adidas released the Forum Low Cinco de Mayo edition back in April of ‘08. These pair of kicks are the definition of vibrant with neon green, orange, and red along with white and black leather. One might think the colors are overwhelming, but they mesh extremely well together here, reminiscent of pinatas and the vibrancy in Mexican culture.
adidas NMD R1 V2 “Mexico City” 2020
The sleekest design of the three comes from the NMD R1 V2 “Mexico City” editions. The shoe comes with a White Primekit upper, white laces, heel counter, liner, and EVA pod overlays. It’s a splash of bright white complemented well by the iconic colors of the Mexican flag on the sole of the shoe. The sole is complemented by red and green stitching around the shoe along with gold branding, making this shoe a simple, yet effective, design.
Air Jordan 1 Mid “Cinco de Mayo” Pack 2009
The Jordan Brand hopped in on the Cinco de Mayo fun when they released the Air Jordan 1 Mid Cinco de Mayo pack. The shoe had two varying colorways: black and white. The key to both is the stitching around the swoosh, which comes in a red, white, and green pattern that makes the Swoosh stand out. The same stitching is used around the midsole, with the “Wings” logo matching the same colors. The shoes are simple, but they do an effective job at celebrating the holiday in the Jordan way.
Nike Vandal Low “Cinco de Mayo” 2008
Nike came in hot with their tribute when they released the Nike Vandal Low Cinco de Mayo edition. The Vandal Low is the first shoe on the list to take gold as its color of focus The silhouette of the shoe is an off-white, making the gold stand out in an interesting way, especially at the heel of the shoe, which has the eagle from the Mexican flag traced out in gold. The shoe is traced in a darker gold around the laces and midsoles and has a red and green strap across the tongue. Another simple design that takes the colors and works them in a way that helps the entire thing pop.
Nike Cortez “Cinco de Mayo” 2018
While not officially a Cinco de Mayo release, Nike paid tribute to the holiday when they redressed the famous Cortez in Cinco de Mayo fashion. The upper part of the shoe is white leather and off-white suede while the Swoosh and back heel tag are dressed in a vibrant green. A stripe of habanero red runs across the midsole of the shoe, complimenting the Mexican flag well. Nike might have avoided labeling these an official “Cinco de Mayo” release because of the controversy behind the origin of the name: Cortez or Hernan Cortes, most famously known for conquering the Aztecan empire. It would seem counterintuitive to celebrate a holiday with a shoe named in honor of the man that conquered the country. Still, the shoes are popular amongst the Hispanic community and are a nice tribute to the people who have supported it.
Nike Zoom Air P-Rod Elite “Cinco de Mayo” 2006
P-Rod came through with another tribute to his heritage when he collaborated with Nike on the Zoom Air P-Rod Elite Cinco de Mayo editions. The shoes once again dawn the patented red, white, and green. The leather upper has a flashy gold eagle wing, a tribute to Chicano-inspired artwork. Mismatched tongues feature the words “laugh now, cry later”, while the world “Fuertes”, meaning strong, is embroidered on the pine-green heel tab.
Nike SB Zoom Air P-Rod II “Cinco de Mayo” 2008
Two years after the first P-Rod Elite’s, the SB Zoom Air P-Rod II Cinco de Mayo editions would drop. The II’s kept the original red, green, and white accents in similar spots, but added to the overall shoe. The upper is white leather, which contrasts nicely with the black Swoosh. The patented diamond-shaped pattern P-Rods are known for is also on the upper and on the interior of the shoe. However, the interior seems to take on a lighter green that matches the insoles of the back of the shoe. The shoe also features a bold red Nike embroidered sign on the white heel tab.
Nike SB P-Rod III “Cinco de Mayo” 2010
P-Rod and Nike enjoyed their first two SB Zoom Air that they figured: why not a third? The SB Zoom Air P-Rod III would take a leap from its predecessors and become the most audacious of the trio. The entire upper is covered in a suede green complemented by a white midsole, red and black outsole, and white laces. Red details are splashed through the shoes, paying a nice tribute to P-Rod’s roots and the holiday.
Mr. Cartoon x Nike Air Force 1 Low “Cinco de Mayo” 2005
Nike has had some famous collaborations over the years and added to their list when they reached out to legendary tattoo artist Mr. Cartoon in ‘05. The pair collaborated on the Nike Air Force 1 Low Mr. Cartoon Cinco de Mayo editions. The upper leather dawns the red, green, and white, with a white embroidered “LA” near the heel of the shoe. The Swoosh is a bold red, matching the heel tab. It’s a simple design on a great silhouette, paying tribute to Mr. Cartoon’s Mexican roots, as well as his roots in the city of LA.
Nike SB Dunk Low “Cinco de Mayo” 2005
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Nike SB Dunk Low “Cinco de Mayo” editions. The shoe is simple, with a red toe, white side panel, and green heel. The shoe was released as a celebration of Mexican culture to commemorate Cinco de Mayo and was also famously worn by Paul Rodriguez during the ‘04 X Games, where he would go on to win gold. The shoe is complete by the brown outsole and lining, an homage to the center eagle on the Mexican flag. It’s a complete tribute, and effective in its homage.